The Buddhist Retreat Centre
Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
For people of all religions
BRC Newsflash: September 2022
The 42nd AGM
|Image: Chantelle Flores
On your 87th birthday on the 14th August,
I will always be grateful to you for opening the door onto the Dharma for me.
The idea of a path, the path – those walking it now, those behind waving us on, those somewhere up ahead – thoughts illustrated by the lines from Hector, the history teacher in Alan Bennett’s play (and film) The History Boys: ‘Pass the parcel. That’s sometimes all you can do. Take it, feel it and pass it on. Not for me, not for you, but for someone, somewhere, one day.’
You have passed the parcel of the Dharma on to so many people – of which I am one. I thank you, and remember well my first moments sitting on a cushion at a drawing retreat in November 1987, suddenly realising ‘this is it’.
I offer you a deep bow of respect, love and gratitude.
|Louis van Loon
|Image: Angela Shaw
Spring News: Nirodha Private Nature Reserve
September will yield another feather in our cap when a portion of the BRC’s property – the mistbelt grasslands - will be formally proclaimed by Esimvelo Wildlife as a Private Nature Reserve.
In the 1970s, when I wondered how in the world I would be able to convert a dilapidated piece of land into a retreat centre and restore the grasslands and wildlife, I couldn’t have imagined the paradise it would become, with its indigenous forests and grassland trails, inhabited by shy deer and duiker, the rare blue swallow, ground hornbills, wild boar and aardvark, the spotted genet, the otter, and of course the vervet monkeys.
I recall how Antony Osler and I would occasionally relax after a day of brutally hard labour - digging, hammering, and slogging away, working alongside our team - a samoosa and a cup of coffee in hand that would take you to heights of euphoria. Those breaks were heavenly! In those early days, a few visitors occasionally, turned up, curious about this ‘monastery’ they had heard about…. But, they soon left us alone when we made it clear that we would welcome a pair of helping hands - instead of specatator ears!
|Image: Angela Shaw
Speaking of ‘wildlife’, we have a new resident. Retreatants staying out at the hillside kuti are being welcomed by a surprise visit from Cato, the Rhode Island Red chicken. She resides with Pauline, one of our resident staff members, in one of the kutis, and brings delight and joy to all who encounter her. She was rescued on the N3 freeway near Cato Ridge and brought to the BRC. She is just the most charming, affectionate ‘talking’ hen who comes when you call, loves corn-on-the-cob and cuddles. Two months ago, she laid her first egg….She will soon put Mtombisi - the local farmer who supplies us with free range eggs - out of business! Don’t be too surprised if you find her nestled up next to you on your bed one morning here on the hills of Ixopo..........
May we remember with gratitude all those dear to us
May we never lose the blueness of the sky
|Little red hen Cato
|Image: Andrew Brown
Now And Zen: Reboot, Recharge And Retreat
There is no better place than the BRC to rejuvenate the body and mind with nature, meditation and movement to guide you into presence and stillness.
|Dharma wheel and deers
|Image: Chantelle Flores
There are still a few spaces left on the following August retreats:
Kugan Naidoo | Weekend | 12-14 August
Pippa Cope | Weekend | 19- 21 August
Pippa Cope | 3 days | 21-24 August
Jennifer Chapman | Weekend | 26-28 August
|Find your centre in the labyrinth
|Image: Chantelle Flores
Conducted Retreats September 2022
indicates retreats held in Noble Silence
The Body Has Something To Say: Exploring Our Thinking Bodies Through Yoga, Meditation And Therapeutic Reflection
Fiona Brittion and Jason Ross | Weekend | 2-4 September
Susan Sloan | Weekend | 9-11 September
Lisa Firer | Weekend | 16-18 September
Dorian Haarhoff | Weekend | 23-25 September
Dorian Haarhoff | 2 days | 25-27 September
Ever since I heard my first love story I have been looking for you - Rumi
Who is the who that Rumi alludes to? There is something deeply fictional about us human beings. We are the stories we tell about ourselves. Rediscover the lost art of story-telling. Experience the joy, presence, mindfulness and transformation that arrive when we engage with a tale, learn how to craft it and inhabit it. We begin to see our lives as a story, keeping pace with the rhythm of our hearts, balanced between the in and the out of our breathing. Be enchanted by Zen and other tales from many paths.
Stephen Coan | Weekend | 30 September-2 October
The Zen hermit-monk Ryokan (1758-1831) remains one of Japan’s favourite poets. An eccentric original (he is also known as the “Great Fool”) his antics have endeared him to successive generations. After his initial Zen training Ryokan spent several years of wandering before settling in a mountain hermitage. However, Ryokan was no world-hating recluse and was frequently to be seen playing with village children or sharing a drink with farmers. According to one authority Ryokan's life “was a living sermon”. In an atmosphere of contemplative silence, this retreat will use Ryokan's life and his luminous poetry to reflect on our relationship with ourselves, the world and all the beings who inhabit it. Apart from an introductory talk and a discussion period this retreat will be held in Noble Silence.
People often yearn for an opportunity to recalibrate their lives and to spend some time in quiet reflection among like-minded people. The BRC provides such a refuge - where silence is a precious commodity. Treat yourself to a personal retreat where you can wake up to bird song, walk in the morning mist, rake the sand garden and enjoy the Sound Circle in the bamboo grove.
| Protea buds
|Image: Beena Hatcher
About the BRC
Perched on a ridge at the head of a valley in the Umkomaas river system in KwaZulu-Natal, the Buddhist Retreat Centre looks out on a vista of indigenous valleys, forests and rolling hills receding like waves in the blue distance. Here, for forty two years, people of all religions and none have come to experience peace and tranquillity. It is a gentle, sympathetic space where one can be still and get in touch with oneself and reflect on the things that crowd one's life.
The BRC was voted by CNN as one of the ten best meditation centres in the world.
CNN Travel awarded another feather in the BRC’s cap by voting it as one of the ten best spiritual centres in South Africa, recently.
The BRC was awarded Natural Heritage status in 1995 under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Affairs and received a certificate to that effect signed by President Nelson Mandela for turning an eroded farm into the natural paradise it has become - thousands of indigenous trees were planted by retreatants under the supervision of Mervyn Croft - with 160 species of birds, including the Blue Swallow, otter, deer, antbear and indigenous forests. The Centre was also given the special status of “Custodian of the Blue Swallow” for its work in preserving the breeding areas of this endangered bird.
Recently, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife granted the BRC “Private Nature Reserve” for the conservation of the rare Blue Swallow and Mistbelt Grassland.
The BRC facilitated the founding of Woza Moya, the community-based NGO, located in Ufafa Valley, twenty-two years ago, on the estate. Their vision is for all people in the community to be healthy and.productive, to live in a safe and clean environment, with good access to services and social justice. The Centre continues to support the organisation by showcasing their crafts in the shop and sponsoring their trainers and consultants.
We have been very touched by your appreciative letters, emails and friendship towards the BRC - your spiritual home from home.
We are deeply grateful for your generous gifts to the Centre this year: new beds and bases, office chairs and a desk, bathroom towels, indigenous trees and seedlings, books for our library, a generator, a garden bench, clothing and Dana for our staff - and so much more.Thank you to all of you who continue to support our work in Ixopo with monthly and Paid Up Yogi contributions and donations, with gifts, or with skills and time. And, of course, everyone who comes to the Centre keeps us open and viable. We are deeply grateful for your generosity towards us; it encourages us to continue Louis’ beautiful vision and legacy for the future.
Please continue to support the BRC by becoming a friend of the Buddhist Retreat Centre (a registered non-profit organisation) and find out more about the BRC's Paid-Up-Yogi and Sangha Friends’ projects.
Visit our website for further information, directions, image gallery etc.
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